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Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground Columns

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Lunar Mantra

Lunar Mantra is an apropos moniker for this week’s featured Unearthing The Metal Underground band. The name itself conjures images of occult-obsessed freaks howling at the moon and uttering magical words, and the Scottish band's new release is a fitting soundtrack to accompany this mental image. Their previous recorded output has been limited thus far, having only released an EP and a single in their half decade existence. But they’ve returned with another EP—“Psychosomatika,” set for release on May 7 via Invictus Productions—that oozes and flows with a transcendental and spiritual quality that’s more likely to spur listeners to “trance out” rather than rock out. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Neorhythm

A considerable void in the realm of heavy, nineties-rooted aggressive groove metal has remained for years now, aside from a few longtime heavy hitters. Russia’s Neorhythm is rekindling that fire and pouring gasoline atop with flammable elements in the form of death metal, thrash, prog and math. One Mag performs all instruments and writes the music, while Telkw provides the vocals and lyrics. The dynamic duo tackles lofty subject matter, to say the least—uttered in English, Russian, Latin, Volapuk and Ancient Greek—involving the history of the world and the nature of mankind and civilization. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Sulphurous

Born from the heavy metal hallowed ground that gave us Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, Sulphurous also grew from the soil of Copenhagen, Denmark. The dank death metal band has been toiling away in the underground since 2008. They’ve primarily offered demo material more than anything else, aside from an EP and a well-received LP in 2018 entitled “Dolorous Death Knell.” The duo now returns with a brief but banging two-song EP by the name of “Encircling Darkness,” set for release on 7” vinyl and digitally via Me Saco Un Ojo Records. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Astral Tomb

One look at the promo pic of Astral Tomb will lead hordes of tried-and-true death metal fanatics crossing their arms, assuming the young band is a part of the trendy “cavernous” or “OSDM” flock. Judging a book by its cover isn’t always the best option. Then again, viewing the promo pic through a more optimistic lens might be an adequate entry point. The youthful appearance and aesthetic seems true to the spirit of a young Obituary back in the late eighties and early nineties. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: StarGazer

Australia has been a hotbed of extreme metal madness for decades. Whether we are talking about the classic eighties thrash of Hobbs' Angel of Death (RIP Peter Hobbs), the disgusting noise of blackened death metal pioneers Sadistik Exekution, the bar-room brawl aggression of Damaged, or—more recently—the psychotically evil death metal oppression of Eskhaton, there’s something nasty and vile brewing in the heavy metal cauldron that’s Down Under. There is also the invigorating avant-garde black/death metal band StarGazer, revered in select underground circles but virtually unheard of by many death and black metal acolytes. The act has been kicking out the evil jams for a quarter of a century at this point, and the black magical band will release its latest full-length album, “Psychic Secretions,” at the beginning of February of the new year via Nuclear War Now! Productions. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Kaligula

Indonesia has been a hotbed of death and black metal for years. The Southeast Asian country is primarily known for the rabid fanaticism of its fans significantly more than for its homegrown talent. That isn’t to say that there is a lack of quality bands, however. The death metal juggernaut Kaligula is our case-in-point. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Sacrocurse

The Mexican/Texan entity known as Sacrocurse has been hurling vile, dark metal since 2012. The unit’s leader is ZK, who began his career with Mexico’s Unholier in the early nineties, and he’s performed with the likes of Nodens, Morbosidad, Russia’s Pseudogod. But the prolific musician has been making noise more recently with Sacrocurse, an act that has a couple of full-length albums under its belt as well as a few other releases. And on January 20, 2021, the band will release the awesome EP entitled “Supreme Terror,” on multiple formats via Shadow Records/Regain Records. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Omegavortex

Something vile has been brewing in Germany. The ensemble known as Omegavortex initially formed in 2007 as Ambevilence, a project that released just a handful of songs. Omegavortex is cloaked in obscurity, referencing the majority of its members by only the pseudonym of a singular letter, including one “X”—who was presumably involved in the awesome, now defunct death metal band Beyond. The band’s mysterious nature permeates its ominous and punishing debut full-length, “Black Abomination Spawn,” which is set for release by Invictus Productions on November 13. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Hanging Fortress

A massive wave of younger hardcore bands and kids morphing into “Old School Death Metal” influenced bands has been flooding the American metal scene for a while now. Whatever their backgrounds may have been musically and in terms of influence, Toledo’s Hanging Fortress does indeed sound like a hybrid of modern, groove-based hardcore and classic death metal. The majority of such cross-bred bands sound good on paper, depending upon who you ask, yet the results are stale and forgettable more often than not. While the Ohio band in question isn’t pushing the envelope in any area, they stand out because of how catchy their testosterone-fueled death marches prove to be. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Nexul

There’s something absolutely disconcerting and ominous about the black and death metal bands from the border town of El Paso, Texas - whose sister city of Juarez, Mexico, is one of the murder capitals of the world. The hellish hymns of bands like Obeisance, Satanik Goat Ritual, Hellvetron and Nyogthaeblisz are distinct yet common in their shared, distinct sense of darkness. Members of the latter two acts also stand together in the occult-obsessed blackened death metal band Nexul that is also a part of what’s known as the Ordo Satanae Imperium collective. Conceived in 2011, the quartet hasn’t been the most prolific band out there—having released only a demo and a full-length album—but the Texans have clearly focused upon quality rather than quantity. More...

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Bloodsoaked Necrovoid

Latin American countries are home to a distinct kind of dark extreme metal. It is one that’s uniquely raw and demonic whether we are speaking about early Sepultura or Sarcofago from Brazil, Criminal from Chile, Mortem from Peru, or Shub Niggurath from Mexico. True to this wicked spirit is new blood squeezed from the soil of Costa Rica by the name of Bloodsoaked Necrovoid. Since forging together in 2018, the death/doom ensemble has been relatively prolific, having released several demos, songs on a compilation and a split. More...

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Unearthing Serpents of Secrecy

The gentlemen behind Baltimore’s doom rockers Serpents of Secrecy are set to release their highly anticipated debut release, “Ave Vindicta,” on Halloween. The effort is a tribute to the band’s late great bassist, the Reverend Jim Forrester, who was tragically murdered in 2017 outside of the tattoo shop at which he was employed. The band’s surviving members sidelined the creation of Ave Vindicta and the entire project at the time to cope with the gravity of the situation. More recently, the act—drummer Chuck Dukehart III, vocalist Mark Lorenzo, and guitarists Todd Ingram and Steve Fisher—reconvened to finalize the album which is a powerful blend of stoner swagger and dark doom heft. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: WoR

In terms of new blood, there has been an extensive void in the realm of groove metal. They’re not exactly the next Pantera or Lamb of God, but North Carolina’s WoR seems to be one of the promising new acts that’s worthy of attention. Guitarist Ben Kaiser, the act’s founding member, has a background that’s far from the norm from most metal musicians. He was a collegiate football player at NC State University in North Carolina, having played alongside several current NFL players. The common thread between that element of his past and present with WoR is obvious: primal aggression. More...

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Unearthing CONTRACULT Collective

Fans of catchy industrial metal have reason to rejoice with the introduction of CONTRACULT Collective. The Los Angeles-based duo, operating under the pseudonyms Culprit and Svart, had initially come together while they were members of Brooklyn’s hardcore/sludge metal hybrid White Widows Pact. That band’s 2015 album “True Will” concluded with a hidden song that foreshadowed the divergent path that led to CONTRACULT Collective. The unit has just released its debut EP, “A Cult of Opposition,” via their own imprint, Hogwasche Music, and the release is available via Bandcamp and all major streaming services. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Exaugurate

Buried in the belly of America’s deep South is the interesting death metal entity known as Exaugurate. The new project is comprised of members, past and present, of Hollowed Idols, Ectovoid, Ritual Decay, Cemetery Filth and Seraphic Entombment. Exaugurate is steeped in the spirit of classic death metal without being riddled by the cliches and tropes of the en vogue “old school death metal” scene. While Exaugurate summon’s the filthy spirit of genre progenitors Autopsy, whilst occasionally churning out Immolation-styled riffs and squeals, the band’s label, Rotted Life Records, rightfully likens them to dank, brooding, post-2000 death metal bands like
Dead Congregation, Grave Miasma and Cruciamentum.

Speaking of Cruciamentum, that act’s main-man, Dan Lowndes, actually provides excellent lead work on “Ascendant Beyond Carrion,” the final song of Exaugurate’s outstanding, four-song debut EP “Chasm of Rapturous Delirium.” Lowndes also mixed and mastered the release. “Chasm of Rapturous Delirium” stands out because Exaugurate clearly focuses upon substance and song-craft above all. With plans for a full-length album in the works, and the expressed desire to perform live and tour once such efforts are realistic, Exaugurate is clearly a new death metal band worth your attention.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Video Nasties

Liverpool will forever be known in the realms of pop and rock by virtue of it being home of the Beatles. Fast Forward to 2020, a band by the name of Video Nasties may be drinking from the same water, but they’re as stylistically removed from the Fab Four as Mr. Rogers is from Howard Stern. The act pulled it’s name from the singular form, “video nasty,” an English colloquial term referring to low-budget horror and exploitation films. The moniker is apropos considering that the quintet’s debut full-length, “Dominion,” is a filthy and melodic slab of fun-loving but aggressive, horror-obsessed black ’n roll.

Video Nasties is comprised of alumni of such notable underground UK metal bands as SSS, Magpyes, Heresy of Thieves, The Bendal Interlude and Iron Witch. The English metal scene vets may have been around the block, but as a new entity, Video Nasties performs with the enthusiasm and vitality of a collection of passionate 18 year olds jamming in the garage. The form is thrashing blackened death, with a pinch of doom thrown in for good measure, but they perform with the spirit of a coarse punk band. Whether it’s the pummeling opener “Stay Gold” or the groovy, mid-paced burner “Drone Eagle," the gentlemen of Video Nasties unleash catchy metal that’s just as fun-loving as it is lethal and cut-throat. The synths and electronics augment the horror soundtrack qualities throughout, fleshing out the robust metal attack that’s helmed by charismatic frontman Damian Von Talbot. In short, Video Nasties is a compelling band that extreme music enthusiasts should keep an eye on.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Dining with Dogs

Dining With Dogs is an atypical name for a heavy band. More importantly, Dining with Dogs is an atypical kind of heavy band, in the best possible way. The band differs immensely from The Dead See, the ensemble’s precursor outfit that was a gargantuan and lethal hybrid of Neurosis and Crowbar, as well as from frontman Mark Key’s current experimental mind-fuck that is BLK OPS. In a nutshell, Dining With Dogs is a metallic version of the legendary noise rock band Jesus Lizard that unravels in defiance of strict genre classification, touching upon the foundation of sludge metal and hard rock along the way. While 2020 has been deemed by many as a “write-off” due to the current pandemic, Dining With Dogs’ debut “The Problem With Friends” is cause for celebration for fans of inventive heavy music.

Accomplished music video director Marcos Morales’ murky and punchy bassline opens the spacious soundscape of “Oddly Shaped Skull” right off the bat, underlying Josh Paul’s steady beat and Mark Key’s soulful, subdued crooning that has more in line with a narrative quality than standard guitar-driven music vocals. Key’s guitars subsequently come crashing with a forceful hard rock surge that’s delivered with a sense of purpose. “Sweet Talkin’ Psycho” follows up with a groovy swagger that’s almost danceable. The simplicity and rhythmic stabbing here and throughout “The Problem With Friends” are the reasons why the release is so memorable. The riffs and the punctuations simply have meaning. Later, “Puzzled” rolls forth with hearty portions of melodic post-rock majesty that are reprieves for the burly scream-along fracas.

The individual pieces of the puzzle of “The Problem With Friends” aren’t entirely unique. But they’re assembled in a manner that’s refreshing and distinct. This is an exciting starting point for the new Austin-based band that is comprised of seasoned musicians. And Dining With Dogs is a band worth keeping an eye on for heavy music aficionados who are yearning for something new and fresh.

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Unearthing The New Band Underground

Man, this just always manages to happen. We get a couple of Unearthing The Metalunderground columns up and running and then somehow its been months again since the last one. That phenomena struck again as I look back and see it's been four months since the previous entry!

Back at the end of January we covered three bands with totally unexpected sounds, and now its time to get back into the swing of things with three groups still in their infancy, only having been around for a few years or even just getting started in 2017. These bands may be on the newish side, but they've all got a fabulous polished sound that belies that youth.

Below we cover three lesser known groups with a fairly broad range of sounds that are all worth your attention: young Norwegian project Korrupt, Russian outfit Dark Matter Secret, and finally Ursinne, a death metal supergroup that isn't going to be underground for long! More...

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Unearthing The Completely Unexpected Underground

The ascendancy of Nergal's new dark blues / country project Me And That Man got me thinking about all the utterly unexpected sounds that have come through my speakers in the years I've been writing here.

For every thrash rehash, modern metal copy and paste job, or a slew of utterly identical melodic post-hardcore emo bands, there's always some outfit hanging out just below the surface that no one has ever heard of - but is putting out awe-inspiring sounds.

Today we're going to focus on those groups that go way off the beaten path, offering a very different take on various sub-genres than what you'll hear from the average metal band. You aren't going to read about them on Rolling Stone, but these are the innovators pushing boundaries that deserve to thrive in the metal underground.

Zeal And Ardor

This one-man project creates something that is so incredibly obvious in hindsight but has barely been scratched by the scene as a whole: a collision of old African American spirituals with extreme metal. Reading that description for the first time, it seems like those two forces wouldn't be compatible, but just think about the connotations for a second.

Why did black metal arise in the Scandinavian scene in the first place, and why are the early days of the style so closely associated with church burnings? American slaves persecuted by Christianity have more in common with the pagans of European lore than you might think.

Imagine if those same slaves had access to guitars and decided to take their music in a more extreme direction. I'll let the project's Bandcamp description explain the rest:

Imagine this: Django sacrifices a goat on stage while intimidating slave chants roar and screeching guitar riffs burn in the background. Then the rhythmic chain rattling evoking a satanic summoning makes way for the eerily familiar melodies of Norwegian black metal.

Intrigued? While the album as a whole does have some down points and a lack of focus (a full review is coming), the tracks that stick to this collision of ideas are top-notch. Zeal & Ardor's "Devil Is Fine" is due to officially drop February 24th, 2017.

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Unearthing The Underground: Kicking Off 2017

It's a whole new year metal fans, and as the first Monday in a wide open 2017 standing before us full of metallic possibilities, we've officially arrived at the year's inaugural edition of Unearthing The Metal Underground!

In week's past we've covered modern prog rock groups and much more extreme metal bands alike. Today we're going to cover three completely different sub-genres in our underground picks, from post-rock to black metal to melodic death.

A Province Of Thay

This unlikely group hailing from Seattle caught my attention strongly when we had the opportunity to premiere the "Atonement" EP in October of 2016.

The opening title track immediately grabbed me and had me spinning the release multiple times to experience more of this shoegazy post-rock just absolutely dripping with atmosphere and emotion but still very much on the metal side (check out our full review here).

I sort of love the genre description A Province Of Thay uses on Facebook: "gloomy doom, post rock, post metal, prog, nerds." That pretty well sums it up. Take a listen to "Atonement" below.

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